Johnny, Jimmy and Josh

Everything we do for the first time should be called a world premiere. A red carpet is helpful for the feeling of gravitas but not essential. And once that thing you’ve made has had its world premiere it’s then your back catalogue. Which sounds way more everything than just referring to it as ‘that thing I made that time‘ or ‘that thing I was in that time‘.

See, the difference the right words can make? World premiere, back catalogue. Impressive, right?

We had a world premiere a couple of months back, and we’ll be due for another world premiere soon, we’re just waiting for the head honcho Josh Conn to pull all the components of his short film together.

I don’t want to say too much about Josh’s new film but let me tell you about the last one. Called Hypnotised, that film came from the pen of Michael Auciello, and was shot predominantly by Shaun Viljoen and edited by Josh Conn. Josh is also in each scene as the protagonist. I’m the antagonist; an emotionally manipulative psychopath (is there any other kind?).hypnotised.jpg

Now we could have just shown it to our friends and they could have said well done and good on you, but instead we rolled out the red carpet, had some lovely food (on trays, carried by people other than ourselves), and a few bottles of sparkling. There were a couple of thank you speeches, some clapping and much patting of ourselves on the back.

I am in awe of people who make films, who can tell stories so cleverly this way.

I am not that person. Let me run you through my back catalogue. The films where I’ve been in charge.

First up, back in uni days, in the seventies, when film-making was a different kettle of fish altogether, where each student was allocated only one roll of film, where editing involved splicing and taping the bits together, where the cutting room floor was a place and not a cliché, and where I knew nothing at all about anything at all.

A friend rescued me, telling me he had the best idea for a film, and given I had no idea, his quickly became the one. It involved a wedding with a stabbing set to Alice Cooper’s Only Women Bleed. I know, it sounds amazing (cue heavy sarcasm). The world premiere for that film took place in the teacher’s office with an audience of one who failed to recognise its genius.

The second film I (almost) made was when I was studying video production as part of my masters. I went to Bollywood, Mumbai, and studied at Film City for a few weeks and at the end of that, when I got wind that Jimmy Bartel was also in Mumbai, I followed him around for the day filming him working with a bunch of slum kids in a philanthropic program. There was lots of heartfelt talk to camera about how he felt about what’s important. What I learned that day, about what’s important, is to have the sound turned on. What I learned later that week about what’s important is to not leave the videotapes in the hotel room for the cleaners to chuck out.

The next film, also as part of my masters, starred my 99-year-old friend who played me in an autobiographical biopic about learning shorthand. It had a Johnny Cash soundtrack and biblical references. My friend was marvellous; my filming and editing less so. The world premiere of that film took place in the classroom at assessment time. It involved polite and restrained clapping.

I haven’t made one since. Although I like the idea of it. I’m just not brave enough, or good enough, or patient enough, to make a film. But I did like being in one and I did like having a world premiere and I do like to think of my past attempts as my back catalogue.

And I am pretty keen on the next world premiere. Hurry along there, Josh, I’m ready!


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